Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 5, 2024

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 5, 2024

In this first issue of 2024, I offer some predictions for what will make news in the weeks and months ahead.

  • The Appellate Court of Maryland will uphold the lower court’s decision to dismiss charges against Tyler Mailloux in the death of local teenager Gavin Knupp. The Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office will then refile multiple charges in District Court. A plea agreement will be reached in exchange for a short jail sentence.
  • The Town of Ocean City will file a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management after the agency approves the US Wind project. The litigation will slow the process, resulting in no significant action on offshore wind development.
  • The Oceans Calling Festival will return with another widely successful three-day event but this time Mother Nature is generous with warm, sunny weather.
  • A second large-scale music festival will be announced for the weekend following Oceans Calling, but it will feature country artists and offer about half of the acts and a smaller footprint.
  • Throughout the year, the subject of inappropriate books and calls for book bans will continue to be heard in public comment sections of Worcester County Board of Education meetings.
  • The Worcester County Commissioners will look beyond the public outcry and the influx of increased property tax revenue from Ocean City’s reassessment, approving in a 4-3 vote only Maintenance of Effort funding for the local school system for the second straight year.
  • Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor will make official his intent to not serve beyond his current four-year contract, which expires in July 2025. The announcement allows the school board to begin in 2024 the process of conducting a national search with the Maryland Association of Boards of Education to replace Taylor, the long-time former Decatur principal who was appointed to the superintendent post in 2016.
  • Buckingham Elementary School’s reconstruction effort will remain in a state of uncertainty as the Interagency Commission on School Construction favors a different strategy. The IAC views an expanded Berlin Intermediate as a more viable option, resulting in the county and legislative officials continuing to fight the new approach. Gov. Wes Moore opts to not get involved in the controversy despite letters from citizens to intervene. While the Buckingham story will remain in the news throughout the year, no significant changes will take place as far as progress on construction.
  • The Maryland General Assembly will have to hold a special summer legislative session due to financial adjustments needed with a weary economy.
  • The Ocean City Fire Department will make outreach efforts to try and help struggling fire companies in the area overcome emergency labor issues. The move is a result of rural companies in the county losing full-time employees to Ocean City over the recent boosts in pay offered to new and returning resort paramedics.
  • With election results eerily similar to 2020, President Biden will be re-elected to a second term in a rematch with Republican Donald Trump. Despite his name not being allowed on several state’s ballots due to ongoing litigation, Republican voters advanced Trump through the primary.
  • Stephen Decatur’s varsity football team will fall short in its repeat state champion bid, but still dominate the Bayside and advance to the final four in the state playoffs.
  • Long-time Ocean City Public Works Director Hal Adkins will announce his retirement in 2024.
  • The Ocean City real estate market will see a surge in condominium listings after property owners opt for selling in the face of increased condominium fees associated with spikes in insurance and building reserve fund charges.
  • The addition of a new foundation at the historic Henry Hotel will be a photographer’s dream. The project will require the hotel to be lifted for an extended period of time while contractors build a foundation underneath the existing structure. The work is funded by a $250,000 state grant.
  • Construction on the smaller version of the Margaritaville hotel project will begin in Ocean City.
  • The Maryland General Assembly will approve enabling legislation to allow for a room tax increase from 5% to 6% in Worcester County. However, the County Commissioners do not unanimously favor the increase, meaning the change is denied.
  • Connections to a proposed Wawa in Berlin will return to the planning commission with a historic look mirroring the current store in Williamsburg, Va.
  • A traffic light is approved by the state for the intersection of Route 50 and North Main Street.
  • The White Marlin Open will set a new purse and boat participant record in August.
  • The year will end with the future of the Route 90 reconstruction project much in doubt as it becomes mired in politics and budget concerns.
  • The monster truck event planned for the weekend in between Cruisin and Sunfest in October will be delayed until 2025 after logistical concerns are raised over too many special events happening over consecutive weekends in Ocean City.
  • The Baltimore Ravens will defeat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, thanks to a last-minute rushing touchdown by quarterback Lamar Jackson.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.